Originally the plan was for RHEL 5 to have seven years of life, but that plan changed in 2012 when when Red Hat extended its standard support for RHEL 5 to 10 years.
This past week, Red Hat released RHEL 5.11 which is the final minor milestone release for RHEL 5.X. RHEL now enters what Red Hat calls it production 3 support which will last for another three years. During the production three phase no new functionality is added to the platform and Red Hat will only provide critical impact security fixes and urgent priority bug fixes.
"Red Hat’s commitment to a long, stable product lifecycle is a key benefit for enterprise customers who rely on Red Hat Enterprise Linux for their critical applications," Jim Totton, vice president and general manager, Platform Business Unit, Red Hat said in a statement. " While Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.11 is the final minor release of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 platform, the enhancements it offers in terms of security and reliability are designed to maintain the platform’s viability for years to come."
The new enhancements include security and stability updates including improvements to the way that Red Hat can help users to debug a system.
There are also new storage drivers to support newer storage adapters and improved support for RHEL running on VMware ESXi.
On the security front the big improvement is an update to OpenSCAP version 1.0.8. Red Hat first provided support for OpenSCAP in May of 2011 with the RHEL 5.7 milestone update. OpenSCAP is an open source implementation of the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) framework for creating a standardized approach for maintaining secure systems.